WATERFORD RACEWAY - 5 MAY 2019

The events are now coming thick and fast at Waterford Raceway with the usual, roughly monthly, schedule having been rather distorted this year by efforts to avoid clashes with Tipperary Raceway, although it seems that there's very little crossover in driver attendance between Rosegreen and The Pike these days. Round 4 came just two weeks after Round 3 and was the second of three successive events on Bank Holiday Sundays. This certainly causes us some scheduling problems; this Sunday we’ve like to have been split between at least four locations, with Autograss at Carlow, Wexford Hot Rods at Ballymurn and, closer to home, SEGTO racing at Angmering. But the fact that we, yet again, chose The Pike reflects on the atmosphere and quality of racing at Waterford's unique track.

For the third time running there was a fine sunny day for a healthy turnout of 57 cars with 62 drivers. Racing on a busy Bank Holiday weekend always means some drivers have other commitments, which this time included one of Ireland's biggest motorsport events, the Killarney Rally of the Lakes. But even so there were new cars, one welcome new driver and a couple of familiar names from the past returning to action.

CLASS 1 had six entries and saw a close duel between Davy Banville and Jack Hickey in the first race, with Davy retaking the lead in the closing stages. Unfortunately Davy couldn't contest the other races and Jack won the second round, chased by Darragh O'Shea, while Ronan Foley, Ronan Coughlan and Shane Hickey fought out the other places. Jack came straight through from the back to lead the final all the way,  while Darragh held off points leader Ronan Coughlan's Starlet and Shane Hickey for second.

CLASS 3 ran together with the 1s. Jason Ryan's Micra sputtered round to finish a lap down in the first race as Michael Baldwin's Micra held off Alan D'Arcy's Starlet-Suzuki, but Jason soon had the car running cleanly again and won the second heat, chased by Michael and Alan. Starting three-abreast in the final, Jason again got away to win while Michael just clipped Alan on the second lap. Alan held onto the moment and went on to second while Michael limped home with a puncture.

The Ryan Micra was also in service in CLASS 2 driven by Jason's father Pat, up against Eddie Baldwin and Michael Coughlan. In the battle of the “senior generation" Eddie led Pat and Michael in the first round, but next time out Pat and Eddie raced side by side virtually the whole way, with Pat defending the inside line and just holding off Eddie to the flag. The final saw Eddie chasing Pat all the way and finally making his challenge at the last corner; they tangled and, although Pat crossed the line first he picked up a white flag, handing the win to Eddie. Michael Coughlan came in third, after a pit stop to fix a flapping driver's door! The youngster of the class, Jack Pollard, was going well until he slightly bounced his Micra off the back straight wall, then having a good run in the second heat in sister Anita's Starlet.

CLASSES 4, 5 and 6 were all racing together, which could have been worrying, but ended up producing some of the best races we've seen at The Pike.  The first race saw Raymond D'Arcy set off in front of the Class 4 pack, fighting to get past the Class 6 of Brendan Dee, returning to action with his Honda-powered Rover 200. Red flags came out after a spin for the other returning driver, Kevin Condon in a RWD 1600 Hot Rod 206. On the restart Raymond soon hit the front again and , with perfect handicapping, was just caught on the last corner by Martin Fitzgerald's Outlaw Hot Rod Tigra. Fitzy took the Class 6 win from “Donie Diesel” Linehan's Outlaw 206 with Brendan Dee retiring. In Class 5, until the red flag, Andy Foley had been holding off Andrew O'Brien and Padraig Smiddy, but Andy didn't make the restart and Andrew held off Padraig in the middle of the multi -class battle. Peadar Wall chased Raymond home in Class 4 with Mick Boland's FWD Starlet and Kevin Condon completing the runners after Alan Houlihan's Civic stopped.

The second race was even more spectacular with Peadar Wall deciding not to surrender the lead easily to Raymond D'Arcy. For lap after lap Peadar held on round the outside until Raymond finally drew clear, leaving Peadar to defend second place. Donie Linehan was squeezed over the marker tyres at the chicane when lapping a back marker, but in the heavy traffic he was able to catch up again and steal the Class 6 win from Martin Fitz. These two ended up splitting the Class 5 battle in which Andy O'Brien held off Andy Foley and Padraig Smiddy, but still hanging on in front of them was Peadar Wall, who took second in Class 4 from Alan Houlihan and Mick Boland.

The final was missing Andy Foley, with yet more engine problems, while Jamie Condon took over father Kevin's car. Brendan Dee pulled out on the first lap but a fine Class 4 battle developed with Alan Houlihan and Peadar Wall side by side until Raymond D'Arcy came up to challenge Peadar. Once Raymond hit the front he pulled out a bit of a lead but Martin Fitz was getting through the traffic this time and once more Martin caught Raymond in the last corner to take the flag, with Donie Linehan second in class. Raymond completed his impressive unbeaten day in Class 4, with Peadar close behind him, again holding off the Class 5 battle in which Andrew O'Brien beat Padraig Smiddy. Close behind were the FWD Class 4 contenders, Alan Houlihan and Mick Boland, with Jamie Condon  completing the order.

CLASS 1B had it’s own races with four very evenly matched Micras. Willie Heney held off Stephen Healy all the way in the first race but Stephen just held the advantage second time out despite Willie's move round the outside of the last corner. In the final Liam Fitzgerald, with a new bottom end to his engine after last time, led until the closing stages, but Willie got past and then held off Stephen in another neck and neck finish, while Liam just beat the consistent points leader Luke O'Donovan for third.

It was good to see another new driver join the LADIES, with Martina O'Regan in the ex-Aaron Kenneally Rookie Micra. Martina put up a good performance with the only standard car in the field, and will be a welcome addition to the class. With last time's winner Catherine Walsh missing, the battle was between Orla O'Sullivan and the Egan sisters. Orla was very quickly catching Katie and Jamie, but getting past them was another matter! Katie was still just in front when Orla ran out of laps in the first race. In the second race, with the Ladies sharing the track with the Stocks, the lead battles in both classes ended up on the same bit of track and Katie, still just holding off Orla, launched herself spectacularly off the finish line wall to bring out the red flag. Katie was back in action for the final, but this time it was Jamie who took on the task of fending off Orla ‘s charge. Orla finally hit the front with two laps to go, but then Jamie and Katie tangled to being out the reds. That left Orla the winner with Martina O ‘Regan a creditable second. Anita Pollard managed two races before race control duties took over again.

In the STOCKS, Brian Weston took a hat trick of wins in his Mazda, each time holding off Stevie Slattery’s Nissan Almera. Joe Dilworth was third but much closer to the leaders now he had his 1600 Focus up and running to replace the trusty 1400 version.

The JUNIOR PRODUCTIONS  again produced the  biggest entry, with the 15 cars split into A and B groups. Group A had an unfortunate first heat with a couple of early incidents before they settled down with Cian Clancy in the lead. With a couple of laps to go Ted McGrath came through to take up the lead, but a pile -up behind him then took out Cian Clancy, Ben Kenneally, Lisa Nelson and Leon O'Shea, leaving Aiden Heney and Eoghan Burke as the only other runners. The second race saw another red flag, this time with Leon O'Shea's now sadly battered Micra expiring and laying down an oil slick. After the restart it didn't take long for Ted McGrath to take the lead from Joey Dilworth. Ted took a clear win with Aidan Heney just taking second from Joey, while Ben Kenneally retired with a sick engine. Ben switched to Martina O'Regan's car for the final and started up front alongside Lisa Nelson, but it was Lisa who took the lead and held on until the last couple of laps when Ted McGrath found a way past to take his third win of the day. Behind Ted and Lisa, Aiden Heney took third from Cian Clancy, Ben Kenneally, Joey Dilworth and Eoghan Burke.

The “B" group started with a flag to flag win for Tadgh Foley, fending off all Ava Moloney's moves, with James Deane closing right up in third after Ross Ryan paid a visit to the tyre wall. Ross was back in contention for race two but couldn't dislodge Ryan Hickey from the lead, Ryan winning from Ross and James Deane, with another good drive by Ava Moloney bringing her right up to the leaders. Darragh Healy led the final away but it was soon stopped after a few minor tangles left Ryan Hickey with a puncture and Brian Scannell with a bumper needing to be tied back on. The restart saw Ross Ryan take a clear win, with birthday boy Darragh Healy taking a good second from James Deane, Ava Moloney, Ryan Hickey, Tadgh Foley and Brian Scannell.

The ROOKIES also had split groups again. Toby McGuire was promoted to Group A and took the win in a very close first race, from Martin Power, Liam Kiersey, Conor Fitz and Aoife Healy. With the grid reversed for the second race, Liam Kiersey took the win chased by Martin Power. Aoife led the final away but her efforts to close her driver's door caused her to tangle spectacularly with Liam Kiersey. Everyone restarted and Conor Fitz went on to win from Liam Kiersey and Martin Power, with Toby and Aoife chasing.

Group B of the Rookies started with a win for Callum O'Shea, while Paddy Fitz had his best run yet to take second from Molly O'Sullivan, Liam Og Power, Davon Leahy and Darryl Deane. Molly O'Sullivan drove well to win the second heat, holding off Liam Power and Callum O'Shea. The final had plenty of drama with Paddy Fitz hitting the infield banking after bouncing off Molly O'Sullivan, while Darryl Deane was taken out after slowing for the red flag a bit quicker than Liam Power expected. Molly O ‘Sullivan had another good run from the restart, holding off Davon Leahy and Callum O’Shea, with Paddy  Fitz  in fourth.

The Juniors all got a bonus fourth race while the qualifiers were prepared for the main cup race. Ben Kenneally, still in his substitute car, won the Productions from Lisa Nelson, Ted McGrath, Eoghan Burke, Aidan Heney, Joey Dilworth, Ava Moloney, Ross Ryan and Darragh Healy. Liam Kiersey took a win in the Rookies, beating Martin Power, Conor Fitz, Toby McGuire and Aiofe Healy. The B group saw Molly O'Sullivan win again from Davon Leahy, Callum O'Shea and Paddy Fitz.

There was also an extra race for the Stocks, Class 1B and Ladies, in which Orla O'Sullivan quickly passed the field to win from Stevie Slattery, Joe Dilworth, Willie Heney, Luke O'Donovan, Stephen Healy and Liam Fitzgerald.

That just left the main race, the annual Ian O'Leary Cup over 20 laps. 11 cars out of the potential 21 qualifiers lined up, with Jack Hickey setting a very fast pace in his Class 1, while Alan D'Arcy pulled off after accepting a last minute offer of Mick Boland's car. Starting a full two laps behind the Class 1s was Martin Fitz, who unlapped himself at half distance. With five laps to go Jack still looked uncatchable, as Raymond D’Arcy came up to second and Martin rocketed through to third. With two laps to go Raymond slowed and pulled out with a broken halfshaft. Into the last lap suddenly Martin had Jack in sight and swept past to take the win. As Martin and Jack took the chequers, the third and fourth places, Darragh O'Shea and Eddie Baldwin, tangled in the last corner, bringing out the reds as Jason Ryan, Padraig Smiddy, Alan Houlihan, Donie Linehan and Michael Baldwin crossed the line. That led to some discussion, but as the leaders had taken the chequered flag before the reds came out, the result stood with Martin taking the cup, Jack second and Darragh O'Shea reinstated in third.

It had been another excellent day at The Pike, with just three weeks to wait until the next Bank Holiday meeting, when the Sunday's racing will be followed by a charity fun day on Monday, in memory of Mairead D'Arcy, with a variety of novel activities planned to make it an unmissable weekend.

  

CLASS RESULTS sponsored by Freeman Motors

CLASS 1: 1st Jack Hickey, 2nd Darragh O'Shea, 3rd Ronan Coughlan

CLASS 2: 1st Eddie Baldwin, 2nd Pat Ryan, 3rd Michael Coughlan

CLASS 3: 1st Jason Ryan, 2nd Michael Baldwin, 3rd Alan D'Arcy

CLASS 4: 1st Raymond D'Arcy, 2nd Peadar Wall, 3rd Alan Houlihan

CLASS 5: 1st Andy O'Brien, 2nd Padraig Smiddy, 3rd Andy Foley

CLASS 6: 1st Martin Fitzgerald, 2nd Donie Linehan, 3rd Brendan Dee

STOCKS: 1st Brian Weston, 2nd Stevie Slattery, 3rd Joe Dilworth

CLASS 1B: 1st Willie Heney, 2nd Stephen Healy, 3rd Luke O'Donovan

PRODUCTION JUNIOR A: 1st Ted McGrath, 2nd Aidan Heney, 2nd Cian Clancy

PRODUCTION JUNIOR B: 1st Jack Hickey, 2nd= Ross Ryan & James Deane, 3rd Ava Moloney

ROOKIE JUNIOR A: 1st Liam Kiersey, 2nd Martin Power, 3rd Conor Fitzgerald

ROOKIE JUNIOR B: 1st Molly O'Sullivan, 2nd Callum O'Shea, 3rd Paddy Fitzgerald

LADIES: 1st Katie Egan, 2nd Orla O'Sullivan, 3rd Jamie Egan

IAN O'LEARY CUP: 1st Martin Fitzgerald, 2nd Jack Hickey, 3rd Darragh O'Shea

 

 

 

 

 

T